Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs

March 4th, 2019 by

Submitted by Will, Age 10 from Missouri

Rating: ★★★★★

Belly Up is a book about a hippo named Henry, and one day he randomly gets murdered. A boy named Teddy suspects something fishy and investigates. Do you think Teddy will solve this mystery? If you’re wondering then read this book!

Mabel Opal Pear by Amanda Hosch: Book Review

April 15th, 2018 by

mabel-opal-pear-and-the-rules-for-spyingWhen I was a kid, I didn’t know (and didn’t much care) about the details of my parents’ jobs. They’re both lawyers — not super exciting, in my opinion. Mabel Opal Pear, on the other hand, has spies for parents — which is pretty awesome, even if it does mean they’re traveling a lot. At least Mabel’s got her Aunt Gertie to keep her company when her parents are off on a mission. But then everything turns upside down…

In Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying by Amanda Hosch, Mabel finds herself in the middle of a mystery when her parents are called out of town, her Aunt Gertie gets thrown in jail, and her estranged Uncle Frank and his family move into the house claiming that Mabel’s parents asked them to take care of her.

It’s a good thing Mabel’s been studying up to be a spy herself because it quickly becomes clear that her uncle is looking for something in the house — meanwhile, her cousin seems to be playing both her parents and Mabel. Who can Mabel trust as she tries to get to the bottom of her uncle’s motives and her parents’ disappearance, not to mention saving Aunt Gertie from jail?!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, not just because I love a good mystery, but also because of the fun setting: a small town at the foot of Mt. Rainier in the Pacific Northwest, where Mabel’s parents run a spoon museum (yes, a spoon museum!) when they’re not off doing their spy thing. So I’d highly recommend this book to other fans of mysteries, especially if you’re a sucker for mysteries with eccentric characters in quirky towns. For example, you’ll love Mabel Opal Pear if you enjoyed Three Times Lucky, Last in a Long Line of Rebels, and any of Carl Hiassen’s books (like Hoot and Chomp).

Since the title of the book is Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying, I can only hope we’ll be seeing other Mabel Opal Pear and… books in the future. I’d love to see what Mabel gets up to the next time her parents leave town!

Have you read this book, or do you have other mysteries to recommend? Leave a comment below!

— Karen

While Karen would love to visit a spoon museum, she’d be even more excited about going to a museum for food you eat with a spoon — like an ice cream museum or a soup museum!

More about Karen »

Horton Halfpott: Book Review

August 2nd, 2011 by

horton-halfpott-book-reviewThere are actually three titles for this hilarious book by Tom Angleberger — its full name is: Horton Halfpott, or The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor, or The Loosening of M’Lady Luggertuck’s Corset.

So that gives you an idea of the kind of wacky adventures that await you in this story. And you won’t be disappointed!

You’ll meet poor, unfortunate Horton, a good-hearted kitchen boy who becomes the target of a nefarious plot. You’ll also meet Luther, the foul son of M’Lady and Sir Luggertuck. Then there’s Portnoy St. Pomfrey, a famous detective brought in to solve a rash of thefts at the manor. And don’t forget the snooping stableboys: Bump, Blight, and Blemish! Plus pirates. Yes, pirates.

If that’s not enough to get you excited, then you should also know that Horton Halfpott is written by the same author as the totally awesome book The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda. (Although if you weren’t interested when I mentioned the pirates, well, I think there may be no hope for you anyway…)

So loosen your corset and settle in for a good read with this book! And if you’ve already read it, leave a comment with YOUR review!

— Karen

For maybe the first time ever, Karen was not appetized by the food descriptions in a book. Well, would you want to eat Mrs. Neversly’s Pickle Eclairs? Didn’t think so…

More about Karen »

The Danger Box: Book Review

June 24th, 2011 by

danger-box-blue-balliett-book-reviewAre you a fan of Petra, Calder, and Tommy? Then it’s time to meet Zoomy!

Of course, I’m referring to the crime-solving heroes of Blue Balliett’s books: In Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3, and The Calder Game, the dynamic trio of Petra, Calder, and Tommy get themselves involved in one dangerous mystery after another. Now, following in their footsteps, is Zoomy — the unique narrator of Balliett’s latest book, The Danger Box.

Zoomy leads a quiet life in a small town with his grandparents. For medical reasons, he’s always anxious, and he’s also almost blind — but that doesn’t mean he’s dumb. In fact, it’s up to Zoomy to get to the bottom of things when a string of strange events wallop his usually unexciting life.

First, his father (whom he’s never met) turns up out of the blue, then disappears just as quickly — but not before leaving a box with Zoomy’s grandparents. Next, the police arrive in search of a stolen truck, and also in pursuit of Zoomy’s dad. Then, a slippery sort of man comes to town and starts asking about the box. VERY curious…

So, I bet you’re wondering what’s in the box… Well, too bad for you — because I’m not telling! You’ll just have to read The Danger Box yourself and see how the mystery unfolds.

It’s a quieter book than Balliett’s others, with a lot more focus on Zoomy and his everyday life before the action kicks in. But by the end, you’ll meet a thief, witness a fire, gain a new friend, and make a major discovery. So don’t underestimate Zoomy, or this book!

— Karen

Karen sometimes feels like she’d like to lead a quiet life in a small town. Mainly when she’s on a crowded subway platform in the middle of the stinking NY summer heat…

More about Karen »

A Case of Book Amnesia

November 30th, 2010 by

Have you ever read anything that really stuck with you, but didn’t stick with you? This is how I feel about the book ________________.

Let me explain. When I was young, I read a certain book. It was great. I remember getting really into it and being fascinated by the lore and adventure. And now it’s been years and I can’t remember the title of the book. It’s basically my own personal Mystery Book Theater… without the podcast in a couple weeks to reveal the answer. 🙁

Here’s what I do remember from the plot of the mysterious book  ________________ — if it sounds familiar, leave a comment!

  • Setting: At least part or all of the story takes place in the Australian outback.
  • Characters: There are nefarious villains, but I mostly remember the main character: a normal teenage boy with a sense of adventure.
  • Plot: While traveling through the Australian outback, he encounters mysterious happenings — possibly supernatural — and eventually discovers a mountain full of opal stones, which are very valuable.
  • Other: It involves Australian aborigine lore, and the book was typical length — about 150-200 pages.

And… that’s it. If anyone knows of its title or whereabouts, I’d love to find out! But if not, oh well. Back to reading every single kids’ book in the world until I find it.*

— Nancy

* There are many, many fates worst than this. This is quite possibly the best torture Nancy could go through!

More about Nancy »

Kidsmomo Podcast #36: “Mysterious Forces At Work”

October 26th, 2010 by

Somehow, we ended up with a strange crew of detectives in our latest podcast, all about mysteries. We’ve got a riddle-solving rodent, an investigating insect, and a mastermind Mudshark. Wha…? Guess you’ll just have to tune in if you want to get to the bottom of this enigma!

    Download the MP3 (5.1 MB)

  • A resourceful rodent and plenty o’ cheese — aka our mystery book revealed
  • Our mystery picks (Mudshark and Joey Fly, Private Eye)
  • A musical interlude from Weezer
  • A book rec from YOU (Cryptid Hunters)

Also, don’t forget: to get ready for Halloween, our new theme is spooky stuff! So send us a review of your favorite spooky book and check out our picks for Halloween last year, plus our new list of even more spooky stories.

— Karen and Nancy

Book Trailer: Geronimo Stilton

October 19th, 2010 by

This book trailer for the Geronimo Stilton series was originally the Mystery Book Theater video for our More Mysteries theme. For more on Geronimo Stilton, check out our “Mysterious Forces at Work” podcast.

If you think that puns are cheesy and that mysteries stink, then you’ll want to stay away from the Geronimo Stilton books. But if you like a mouse whose detective skills are as sharp as his teeth, watch our video!

More Mysteries

October 12th, 2010 by

Did you know October is Mystery Month? And since it’s October right now, that means we’re in the middle of Mystery Month! See our powers of deduction at work? Perfect for Mystery Month! We’d be the awesomest detectives ever, don’t you think?

[awkward silence]

Uh, anyway… Even though we celebrated last October with this booklist of marvelous mysteries, we couldn’t resist dedicating another booklist to even more mysteries. From a scavenger hunt to a stolen book to murder to the meaning of life — here they are (in no particular order):

  1. Mudshark by Gary Paulsen (Karen’s pick)
  2. Joey Fly, Private Eye in Creepy Crawly Crime (graphic novel) by Aaron Reynolds (Nancy’s pick)
  3. Baker Street Irregulars series by Tracy Mack
  4. Who Stole the Wizard of Oz? by Avi
  5. The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton
  6. Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  7. The Case of the Goblin Pearls by Laurence Yep
  8. The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
  9. Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff
  10. Two-Minute Mysteries by Donald J. Sobol
  11. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass
  12. The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin

(And here’s a printable version of our More Mysteries booklist, for you to take to the library or bookstore — or to your local private investigator, if you can’t track them down yourself.)

If you’ve read any of these, send in your book review. Or send in a review of your favorite mystery book. We’ll feature the best kid-submitted reviews in our next podcast!

UPDATE 10/19/10: We revealed the answer to our Mystery Book Mystery Book Theater in the “Mysterious Forces at Work” Podcast, so take a listen if you want to know the answer. Or just tune in if you want to hear Karen and Nancy act like super scaredy cats.

The Mysterious Benedict Society Series by Trenton Lee Stewart

February 22nd, 2010 by

Reviewed by: Kate, Age 13 from California

Rating: ★★★★★

The Mysterious Benedict Society Series is about four unusually talented kids who take up a mission to save the world from their mentor’s long-lost genius, Mr. Curtain. Over the course of the 3 books, they have to overcome tricky circumstances with Kate’s agility, Sticky’s genius, Reyine’s cleverness, and Constance’s mind power.
I am an avid reader, and have read Percy Jackson, Fablehavan, Children of the Lamp, Ranger’s Apprentice, Septimus Heap, Pellinor, The Ink Trilogy, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and millions of other book series. This series is by far my favorite one.

Also check out reviews for The Mysterious Benedict Society by Hahaha Me and Maddy!

A Kid Detective and Crime-Fighting… Librarians?

February 11th, 2010 by

The first Brixton Brothers book: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity

The first Brixton Brothers book: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity

Back when our theme was mystery books, my favorite kid detective was Encyclopedia Brown. But now there’s a new school-aged private eye in town — meet Steve Brixton, of the Brixton Brothers series by Mac Barnett.

Steve loves reading an old series about two kid detectives, kind of like the Hardy Boys. As he reads the books, Steve dreams about one day solving crimes himself. And then one day, he does end up in the middle of a mystery — as the prime suspect!

To clear his name and uncover the truth, Steve has to dodge the police, infiltrate a criminal hotspot, escape a kidnapping by a bad guy, and escape a kidnapping by the good guys — which is WAY more than Encyclopedia Brown ever did.

Author Mac Barnett -- Isn't he a cutie? Shh, don't tell him I said that...

Author Mac Barnett -- Isn't he a cutie? Shh, don't tell him I said that...

I just finished the first Brixton Brothers book, and I’m really looking forward to the next one. Unfortunately, I can’t find any information about when it’s coming out! So for now, I’ve just been reading this hilarious Q&A with the author, Mac Barnett.

For example:

Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. Walking my little brother’s poodle


Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
A. Walking my little brother’s golden retriever

Intrigued? You can get a sneak preview of Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 online! Check ’em out and leave me a comment with your thoughts.

— Karen

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